Build Yourselves Up
“But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 20–21).- Jude 20–21
This year we have repeatedly mentioned one benefit of studying the General Epistles: the unity of the apostolic message — despite the diversity of these letters — becomes clear. In today’s passage we find another good example of the unified apostolic witness.
Having warned us about what will become of false teachers (vv. 5–16) and that their existence was foretold by the apostles (vv. 17–19), Jude calls us to contend actively for orthodoxy by building ourselves up (v. 20). Commenting upon this passage, John Calvin writes that Jude means “ the foundation of faith ought to be retained.” In other words, believers are always to rest on the foundation laid by the prophets and apostles and to use their words alone to build upon it. This is in keeping with the apostolic command to long for the “pure spiritual milk” of God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2) and to supplement our faith with the godly characteristics described therein (Gal. 5:22–23; 2 Peter 1:5–7). Moreover, building ourselves up in the faith is not something we do alone; it is also a corporate exercise, for we are to encourage one another in the truth (Eph. 4:15–16; 1 Thess. 5:11).
In addition to heeding the doctrinal and ethical admonitions of the apostles, Jude also exhorts us to “pray in the Holy Spirit” and keep ourselves in the “love of God” (vv. 20–21). We pray in the Spirit by being attentive to His instructions about God-glorifying prayer found in Scripture. Keeping ourselves in the love of God does not mean our efforts apart from grace secure redemption, for Jude understands we are kept by God for Christ Jesus (v. 1). However, while God’s redemptive work provides the foundation of our security, His Spirit leads us to take part in that preservation by devoting ourselves to fellowship with Him and His people (1 John 4:16–21).
Finally, Jude calls us to stand firm by waiting for the mercy of Jesus that leads to eternal life (v. 21). Eternal life is our present possession, but we do not yet fully experience it because we have not yet been fully glorified. Eagerly anticipating this final act of redemption motivates us to stand firm, knowing our efforts to contend for the faith will not be in vain.
Building ourselves up in the most holy faith provides the content we need to refute falsehoods. Praying in the Spirit gives us the power we need to stand firm. As we keep ourselves in the love of God, our assurance of the truth of God grows and enables us more confidently to proclaim it. Looking forward to the mercy at the last day gives us hope that our faith in Christ will prevail. Find a small group to encourage you to do these things and stand for the truth.
Passages for Further Study
1 Sam. 2:26